Black Farmers Sue

USDA, Allege Bias

WICHITA, Kan. -- Black farmers sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday with claims that the government discriminates against them in loans and farm programs -- allegations that also were at issue in a broad civil rights case settled five years ago.

The new lawsuit seeks $20.5 billion and class-action status for as many as 25,000 blacks who farmed or attempted to farm between 1997 and 2004. The lawsuit also claims that the USDA is retaliating against farmers who collected payments from the 1999 settlement.

The new lawsuit was filed by the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association and 11 other plaintiffs.

The USDA said it could not comment on the pending litigation.

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-- From News Services